Sydney based event promotions company Maximum Adventure put on a stellar show hosting the 2021 Convict MTB race. After weathering the virus storm in 2020 and then having to make last minute course changes due to the horrific April floods in NW Sydney the event ran seamlessly from the competitors perspective.
The Convict 100 is a staple on the Australian XCM calendar, first run in 2004 as one of the pioneer XCM events in Australia. It tours some of the most interesting historic areas of NSW, although not likely to be noticed when racing through the course full gas, much of the trails used in this race were built by convicts in the 19th and early 20th century. The aim of their construction was to establish a viable trade route from the agricultural heartland of NW Sydney to the port of Newcastle. The trail was adapted in 2021 to avoid the Shepards gully climb which had been damaged in the recent floods. The new route added 3km to the course and took riders up a fire trail climb through private land. After dodging the local bovines riders climbed up a 20%+ seemingly never ending climb before traversing across a ridge to the original course and rejoining before the old feed station stop 2.
In this years race there had already been action before this climb, on the first climb up ‘Jacks track’ an initial selection was forced, 3 riders established an early healthy gap. Pre race favourite Jon Odams, elite road racer Ayden Toovey and 3rd place from the 2020 Jet Black 24hr solo Owen Gordon displayed their fitness by forming this early group. Over the top of this climb Jon Odams put the hammer down breaking away solo. He was admittedly racing to power numbers which he was comparing to his 2019 2nd place when he rode with team mate Brendan Johnston to the finish line. With an average power of close to 290W for the whole course this was in a league ahead of his competitors. Newcastle based triathlete Caleb Agostino-Morrow was able to bridge from behind after the first climb and pursue the leading group and then the leader Odams himself. Gordon and Toovey would work together until the renown rocky mid section of the course where Gordon was able to use his mtb bike handling skill to gap the strong Toovey who has a pedigree in road racing. Team rider Justin Morris would follow in 5th ending up in close finish with Toovey for 4th. Caleb Agostino-Morrow took the underdog prize for a stellar ride to 2nd place. Giant rider Jon Odams would hold on for a dominant win and young Owen Gordon on the 3rd step of the podium.
In the women’s race, a DNS from pre race favourite Briony Mattocks threw the race opportunities open for the remaining competitors. It was Cristy Henderson who would take home the chocolates followed by Kate Mathewson and Jodi Mayled. Full results available here.
This is a race with a solid past and a healthy future. 16 years on, this race still pulls sell out crowds and is a staple for Sydney MTBers to compare themselves to their mates and to themselves as riders measure their times on the course from year to year. A beautiful area of NSW and one that is very appreciative of the support events like this bring to the region. After suffering through the 2019/2020 bushfires, covid shutdowns and then 1 in 100year floods this part of NSW is worthy of support. Was good to see all the competitors giving thanks and donations to the Rural Fire Service volunteers whom were out in force today to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely.